Small Town Parades

Small town parades are one of the great joys of living in Anacortes. Sure, it is mostly classic cars, candy, kids on bikes, and shameless commercialism (although this guy spiced it up, making me feel better about bowing out of my two year tradition). But chances are, you know somebody in at least one of the troupes which always makes it fun. Plus, walking down the streets, you are bound to run into people you haven't seen in a while, and it is always good to catch up.

One of the bummers that gets me every year is the on-it's-way-to-the-trash-heap crap that Shell Oil and others insist on throwing to the masses. Stop by Kiwanis the week after the parade, and I bet you'll find hundreds of those unthrowable frisbees stuck in purgatory on the shelves. And those are the ones that didn't end up the garbage, like I'm sure the majority of them did. Also, do we really need to pretend we are New Orleans and do the beads thing? The plastic crap is one aspect of the parade I could do without.

On the up side, however, there was a pleasant counterpoint, a new addition to this year's parade. A troupe advocating carbon reduction marched along advocating living in harmony with nature, using bikes and public transportation, and more*. Star of their group was the much talked about electric car.

Yep, living in a small town ain't so bad at all. Top it all off with a top notch fireworks display this evening, and I'll pick Anacortes's Fourth of July any day.
Wednesday July 4 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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Baby Time

It seems the talk amongst people my age these days is babies. Everyone is either having them, thinking about having them, reading blogs about them, or fawning over someone else's. Put me in the latter category.

This past week, I've had the opportunity of chilling with Ms. Clara (of Emily and Clara fame) while she and her mom were out visiting from Las Vegas. It is sometimes hard to appreciate the little observations and joys shared on other baby blogs like IHJ and SMaL by those of us that are so far removed from the baby world. Passing time with a young 'un this past week enhanced that appreciation for those little things* you are always hearing people talk about.

Anyway, it was an awesome visit what with the beach, garden, frisbee, goobering, walking, and whatnot.

(First item on the agenda after a week of baby time: a three hour nap. Good times.)
Sunday July 1 2007File under: Anacortes, pics

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Wren Schultz, Professional Juggler

In my continued pursuit for a life of multiple income streams (as opposed to, say, getting a real job), I recently lined up a juggling gig at a local school. Now I am far from what one might think of when you thinks of a professional juggler. I don't have a standard routine, I don't wear a flashy costume, I don't have the obligatory audience participation bit, and I tell the occasional funny joke*. My "act" is more about building excitement and education, perfectly suited for the 10-18 year-old age group.

It turns out that there couldn't have been a better match between my "performance" style and these kids enthusiasm and learning style. They were attentive and duly impressed by my time on stage and asked lots of questions. When the education portion came around, they tried their hand at all my toys and each found his calling, more or less. There were "Hey, Wren! Check this out"s all around, which can't help but make any educator/coach smile.

Not only was the juggling experience great, but the visit to the school was great as well. The school is a live-in school on a nearby island, so the trip out was through the San Juans on calm seas with beautiful weather. How many people can say that they commute to work on a boat? The school grounds are very well kept and super conducive to playing outside, which is essentially what we did my whole time there.

This great experience was made all the greater in that it fits in with my ideal livelihood concept: getting paid for the many different things we have to offer and that we enjoy doing. So if anyone happens to need a juggler, housesitter, web developer, tutor, laborer, cheese tester*, public transportation coach, or environmental consultant, give me a call.
Wednesday June 27 2007File under: work, juggling

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Scraptacular

Scrapbooking is all the rage these days. Back in my employed days at www.PhotoWorks.com*, we were always taking the scrapbooking crowd into account when designing our products. ("Who would possibily want to order an empty book? Oh yeah, scrapbookers.") Besides knowing that scrap bookers might want to purchase an empty book and fill it with pictures themselves, I didn't really know much of the nitty-gritty about the world of scrapbooking.

When I got back from Asia, I was thinking that I should a book together for myself. I had saved maps, ticket stubs, and of course had lots of pictures. When looking around and talking to people about scrapbooking, I found that it was much more complicated than putting pictures and ticket stubs in a book. You needed embellishments. "Embellishments, embellishments, embellishments", a scrapper* friend told me.

That same friend recently put together a scrapbook of my scooter trip for me as a gift. Let me tell you, it was a fine piece of work. Embellishments galore! Now that I have an idea of what a proper scrapbook looks like, I might have a go at my Asia one again. Not that I have a chance of equaling the style that is this, this, and this, but I can try.
Saturday June 23 2007File under: pics, misc

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Simple Solar Power

Sunny days here in the Pacific Northwest aren't as frequent as some other places in the world. In fact, we probably rank pretty low on the number-of-sunny-days-per-year list. But for a brief time during the summer, the sunny days outnumber the grey ones reminding all us Washingtonians that NW Washington is a great place to live.

For this month's Environmental Project of the Month, I thought I would focus on the sun. Part one of the project is nothing new for me, but I want to share it in hopes of encouraging you to give it a try. Hang drying clothes is a wonderful way to harness the power of the sun and save electricity [and fossil fuels, if you have a gas powered dryer]. Not only is it great for the environment, hanging your clothes on the line is a great excuse to be outside on a beautiful day, if even for 10 minutes or so. Drying your clothes on the line isn't a summer only practice, even here in the northwest. For the past 5 years or so, I would say 90-95% of my drying needs have been met by the sun and wind.

Part two of this month's EPotM is what I am really excited about. From junk found around the house, I've built a solar oven. (Plans abound on the internet if you are interested in giving it a try yourself.) Basically an insulated cardboard box with aluminum foil covered collectors, a well made solar cooker can get to 250-275 degrees. In test runs, I've only got mine up to 214. Right now, I've got a couple of baking potatoes and some lentil beans cooking. We'll see how my first home solar-cooked meal turns out.

For those of us not ready or not in a place to make the leap to photovoltaic panels for supplementing our electricity needs (or even for those who are), harnessing the power of the sun through simple methods is a great way to reduce our impact. And speaking of how awesome the sun is, check out this audio ode to the sun. (For those of you at work (esp. in cubicles), be warned: The audio is embedded and hidden in the page so no volume controls or stop button is present. When will people learn that just because you can doesn't mean that you should?)
Tuesday June 19 2007File under: food, environment

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Local Music Equals Local Fun

Saturday evening, I found myself at Boulevard Park in Bellingham rocking to the sweet sounds of Spoonshine (Best. Band. Ever.). Even though the weather wasn't perfect (although it did clear up for a moderately nice sunset*), the turnout wasn't as good as it could of been, and I didn't have any juggling buddies to throw clubs at*, it was still the best Saturday night I've had in a long time. Oh, and any day that you get to hang out with a caped wonder can't be a bad day.

Speaking of local music, rumor has it that the Red Note (current band of former Perfect Day frontman and local legend Shane Chapman) is playing at the Brown Lantern this Saturday night. It'll be a raucous good time, no doubt. (Okay, everyone is entitled to doubt. Far be it from me to tell you how to feel.)

Anyway, it is good to poke my head in on the local music scene every now and again. Knowing the guys (or gals) that are up on stage always makes for a more enjoyable show.
Sunday June 17 2007File under: Anacortes, misc

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Wear Sunscreen

Graduation season is upon us (and has been for some time if the "Dads and Grads" ads are to be trusted). It is a time for new graduates, whether from high school, college, or even grad school, to look ahead. It is also a time for non-graduates to offer congratulations and advice. Congratulations are easy. Advice can be a little more tricky.

In a famous graduation speech/column* (often falsely attribute to Kurt Vonnegut*), Mary Schmich of the Chicago Times compiled her own list of advice to graduating seniors. It grew in popularity from a forwarded e-mail eventually to a top 40 song. If you've never heard or read it, I highly recommend it. The speech can be found here and Wikipedia's entry on the history of it can be found here.

Not that many folks about to, or having just, graduate(d) read BdW, but I thought it would be fun to compile our own list of advice gleaned from our own personal meanderings, just as Ms. Schmich did. To start off the list, I will borrow 2 pieces of advice that I've come to greatly support. Know thyself* (Those Greeks really knew what they were talking about.) and Just do it (Perhaps a little pushy for an advertising slogan, but often valuable as advice when faced with decisions of action/inaction.)

What say you?
Thursday June 14 2007File under: misc, participation

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4000 Miles Video


Inspired by a video put together by a friend of some of his transportation experiences in SE Asia, I decided to put together a little video of my recent scooter trip. I've got a long way to go before expecting an Emmy nomination in the mail, but it ain't bad for having only a 5 year old digital still camera and free editing software that comes with windows. If the inline version doesn't work, click here to go directly to the YouTube page.

Oh, and for kicks, here are a couple pictures about the making of the video.
Monday June 11 2007File under: video, travel

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Internet Video-athon

It's a rainy day here in Anacortes, perfect for catching up on the latest happenings on the interweb (pshaw...like I ever fall behind). But besides the latest goings-on, it is sometimes worth reminiscing over the gems that have had their time in the spotlight and then moved along. I almost consider it a crime to hear when a friend hasn't seen (or even heard of) some of my favorites, so I thought I would use this opportunity to share.

Because I have frisbee on the brain right now, I can't pass up sharing this gem (8MB .mov). If that doesn't get you inspired to play, then nothing will. Or if politics are your thing, check out these two classics of Will Ferrell impersonating President Bush. Here (QuickTime or YouTube) is one of my ultimate favorites: an ad for Sony's Bravia TV (worth watching in the high quality QuickTime).

I know there have been a ton more over the years, but none come to mind immediately. And since sharing is a two-way street, you should leave a link to your favorite internet video in the comments for us all to enjoy. Ain't sharing a beautiful thing?
Saturday June 9 2007File under: video, links

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Frisbee Season is Upon Us

The 2007 Anacortes Parks & Rec Ultimate Frisbee season is upon us! 'Round about March every year, I start getting excited to run around in the luscious green grass fields of Smiley's Bottom while throwing around the frisbee like the hippie I am. Then 'round about June, the weather starts to cooperate. This year, I've been designated as the facilitator which I suppose is only right because I've been participating for so many years now. In addition to running the P&R game, I've been helping out with the high school team. It has been great to get some extra playing time in as well as feel like I am making the world a better place by helping to train tomorrow's frisbee players.

So if you are in the Anacortes area, set aside Tuesday nights to come join us for a game. Smiley's Bottom at 6 pm. All skill levels welcome. (Spectators and cheering squads welcome as well.) Hope to see you there!

Oh, and for those of you who don't know what Ultimate Frisbee is, www.whatisultimate.com has this to say:
Ultimate is an exciting, non-contact team sport, played by thousands the world over. It mixes the best features of sports such as Soccer, Basketball, American Football and Netball into an elegantly simple yet fascinating and demanding game.
Wednesday June 6 2007File under: Anacortes, games

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